Feast or famine business development normally leads to demotivation and stress. Some give up at that point, others slow down, then go frenetically busy again starting the cycle again. As you are the result of what you regularly do (e.g. your habits),if you need to achieve something different, breaking (bad) habits is important.
I love eating, and struggle at conferences, parties, buffets (anywhere where there is good food). As a result of bad eating habits and advancing years (I’ll add that bit in for you Heather) the weight creeps on. Then I starve myself, lose some, feel good only to watch it all happen again. This year I’ve focused on eating habits, rather than starving myself (it’s working so far).
In your firm your habits that have got you where you are now. Which ones are serving you well and which ones need to be broken? The way you manage your team, do your marketing, serve clients, are all habits you might need to change. They may have been essential when you were at a different stage of your business, but not now. Common examples of habits that need to be changed are:
- control, no longer maintaining control over all activities in the firm,
- networking – maybe it’s about letting others get out and network on your behalf,
- client contact – do you insist in seeing all written contact, and being the only one to visit?
The answer to my weight problem, and getting the business you want, is breaking habits that are no longer useful. Breaking habits is really hard, especially when you feel tired, hungry, stressed or fed up. Filling the space with new habits is one of the best answers. These new habits need to be easy to start, rewarding, and give a good result.
Creating a new habit
Which new habits do you need in your life, that will help you achieve your ambition? As a habit doesn’t have to be forever, ask yourself which new habits you need for the next stage of your development. Thinking of habits as a bridge between where you are, and are going maybe useful.
It’s normally best if the new habits are clear, simple and that you know how to do them. You may well need lots of help and support to get them in place, but focusing on the changes you need in terms of your regular actions is more effective than just considering ‘goals’.
Support for new habits
Motivation plays a huge part in this, but your motivation and way of thinking is different to mine; what has worked for you in the past? I am a fan of my Fitbit (a small wristband that counts my steps every day). It also tells me how much sleep I get what I’ve eaten, drunk and how much I weigh. It helps me with breaking habits (eating and not exercising), by giving constant feedback, a supply of data (one of my motivators) and accountability (it’s always looking at me from my wrist). You might need a different support:
- Rewards: For some people a clear reward when they implement the new thing
- A business coach: I know, I had to say it. But seriously, somebody that keeps in front of you and each month holds you accountable, and works with you on your motivation and results.
- A spreadsheet: Filling it in once a week, or once a day with your KPIs. The trick is to make sure your KPIs are not just about output (mainly finance) measures. KPIs should be about your actions, which is how they help you get a new habit.
- Your team: You might not tell them every secret in your firm, but what can you tell them so they help you with breaking a habit? Good team meetings are a great time to discuss the results of what you have put in place of your old habits.
- A checklist: Checklists can be a great way to keep yourself going until you have developed the new habit, making you do the new things. They can also remind you of things you are no longer doing. I feel great every night I say I’ve had no red wine, my checklist is part of breaking habits.
What consistency, accountability and reassurance would help you with your business development habits?
What new habits to develop?
This depends on what you’re trying to do, but here are some things that have I have seen the owners of small firms work on.
- The tactical marketing plan: The actions you need to take, along with the results from them.
- More team meetings: A giant accountability session, helping the team to get closer, and you all to focus on your new habits. Tip – keep them to 10 minutes daily.
- The LinkedIn 9 minute a day checklist: It can help you get some great results, and focus.
- Motivation: Really understanding what motivates you to do things. It won’t be the same thing that motivates somebody else, and it might even be something silly (my Fitbit). A different motivation looks at some more examples of this.
- Time blocking: If breaking a habit is about filling your time, use time blocking to fill it the right way.
Hardest of all when it comes to breaking a habit is often being gentle, yet tough, with yourself. From time to time you will fall off the wagon, you’re human! Picking yourself up and excusing yourself is important, as well as focusing on the great actions you’ve taken.
What have you done to help breaking habits?